Animal Cops on Animal Planet
I am an animal lover, even though my preferences stray more toward cats, most dogs, and horses. I am terrified of snakes and avoid reptiles of any kind, and I don't see the point of a bird as a pet, but if that's someone's preference, so be it. As an animal lover, I watch Animal Planet fairly often, especially the Animal Cops segments that show the SPCA and Humane Societies in various U.S. cities going about their daily routines. To illustrate exactly how much I love animals, I cry like a baby when commercials by the SPCA come on that show abused, unloved, and unwanted animals looking as pitiful as they possibly can. The one where Sarah McLaughlin's song, Arms of the Angels, plays in the background really tears me up...to the point where my boyfriend will change the channel when it comes on, or keep me out of the room until the commercial is over.
I am primarily a cat person and have owned a cat all my life...so I've gone through quite a few cats. Last year, my boyfriend and I rescued an abandoned pregnant female cat from a remote truck stop in Kentucky so she could safely have her kittens in a comfortable environment, and the kittens themselves would have a chance at having a good life. She gave birth to four adorable babies and we found great homes for all of them, and also found a home for the mama kitty after the kittens were weaned. We have also taken in a Chihuahua that had been beaten regularly and found him a home, and adopted a female Pit Bull that was the most well-behaved and gentle "vicious breed" I've ever seen.
An animal is NOT a gift to give to someone on a holiday or special occasion. Too many people get a kitten or puppy because their kid is whining for one, and end up mistreating the animal or turning it loose to fend for itself when they realize that a pet actually requires a certain level of care and attention. If you ever plan on giving a pet to someone, make sure it's NOT a surprise and that they know what to expect, and that they are able and ready to spend several years providing care for that animal. Otherwise, just give 'em a gift card to Walmart.
When I watch Animal Cops, it makes me infuriated to know that people are so horribly cruel to animals that exist solely at the whim of their owner. People take on "pets" without understanding that the responsibility is almost the same as taking on a child. Or people breed animals without concern for their welfare, for the purpose of puppy mills or fighting dogs to make money. I've seen episodes where the animal control officers seized over 100 dogs that had been bred to fight, and every single one of the dogs had to be put to sleep because they weren't adoptable since they had been born and raised into cruel conditions. I've seen episodes where hundreds of roosters had to be euthanized because they'd been treated cruelly and also bred to fight, making them unable to be rehabilitated as pet-worthy animals.
A pit bull that was hog-tied and thrown in a dumpster. A cat that had been beaten half to death with a large stick. Horses that were nothing more than bones and skin, with hooves so damaged they could barely walk. Puppies with their tails cruelly docked with rubberbands, causing infections. A dog with a badly damaged leg, left outdoors in 100 degree weather with no food or water and no medical attention. And many, many more. Some of the animals were so abused and neglected that they had to be put to sleep for medical reasons...and others were nursed back to health and eventually adopted into homes where they would be loved and cared for.
On one episode of Animal Cops, a veterinarian that was treating a puppy said that she felt the persons responsible for being so cruel to the animals should be treated the same way they've treated the animals in their care. I completely agree. Left outside with no shelter, no food or water, in 100 degree weather. Left with infected wounds untreated. Having one of their appendages "docked" with rubberbands and left to eventually wither and rot off. Beaten regularly or forced to fight for their lives in terrible conditions.
There is absolutely NO sense in someone being so mean to an animal. Animals don't have a voice of their own and depend on people to speak for them. Unfortunately, many people are silent and treat their animals like toys to be roughed up and discarded at their leisure. I've heard that animals don't have souls and therefore "deserve" to be treated in a less than humane way. I disagree. They might not have souls, but they DO have personalities and do know what it feels like to be loved and treated well, and they reciprocate by giving every ounce of themselves back to the person that cares for them. They do know what affection is, and they do know how to show it when it is shown to them.
In some cities, the law allows SPCA and Humane Society officers to immediately seize animals that are being mistreated and take them to a shelter for care and eventual adoption. Other cities require that the animal's owner be notified and given a period of time to either provide care for the animal or sign its possession over to the agency. And even other locations have very few provisions at all in place for the protection of animals. Do these same areas have such lax statutes for the protection of human lives? A life is a life, whether it's human or animal.
If you own a pet, treat it well. It depends on you for everything in its life, just like a child, including love and affection. Don't leave it tied up somewhere and consider your duty done if all you do is fill the water bowl and toss a few kibbles to it every day. Would you want to be treated in such a way?
If you don't own a pet, consider adopting one. Shelters all across America have countless animals waiting for their chance to have a good home and a happy life, and they need people to give that to them. Many shelters only hold animals for a short period of time before they euthanize them to make room for the continual influx of abused and unwanted animals coming through their doors. For every ONE animal adopted out to a good home, there are thousands more that need attention.
Also, if you donate to humanitarian causes, consider donating to your local Humane Society or the SPCA in your city. I don't know if the Humane Society is the same way, but the SPCA is not an umbrella organization...donations to the main SPCA office do not get distributed to their sub-offices, so donate to a local one. If you can donate supplies such as pet bedding, food, bandages, and other items, many agencies have a "wish list" on their website that lists items they are in need of so they can continue providing care to the animals they protect and serve. These agencies are generally non-profit, so for the most part, they depend entirely on funding provided through donations.
I know, I sound like an advertisement for donating to shelters and adopting pets. It just makes me angry to see so many animals being treated so poorly, but the really disheartening thing about it is that the few animals you DO get a glimpse of on shows like Animal Cops are barely a fraction of the animals that are in need of help in some way.
Do what you can...even if it's nothing more than making sure your own pet is well cared for.